JMC gets new professional

Brittany Thoma

Tom O’Hara, The Plain Dealer‘s managing editor since 2000, announced Friday that he will leave his newsroom career to teach at Kent State.

O’Hara will put in his last day at the paper tomorrow, but Jeff Fruit, director of School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said his formal teaching will not start until spring semester.

With 35 years of newspaper experience under his belt and 18 years as a managing editor with two publications, O’Hara said he was ready for a change of pace.

“I had a lot of friends go into the academic world,” O’Hara said. “They rave about it. And I decided to take the plunge.”

O’Hara received his bachelor’s degree in humanities from Rutgers University-Camden of New Jersey in 1972. He then earned a master’s degree in communications from the University of Florida in 1974.

His career began at The Gainesville Sun in 1972 as a sports reporter.

Although plans are not yet formalized, O’Hara will tentatively teach ethics and a special topics course on public access and freedom of information.

As of now, O’Hara is only signed on to teach spring semester.

“He’s coming under the Professional in Residence program,” Fruit said.

O’Hara’s position could be temporary or long-term, Fruit said.

“Professional in Residence program is really customized,” Fruit said. “It’s not a one size fits all program. It depends on our needs and the needs of the person we’re dealing with.”

O’Hara said he’s always been curious about teaching.

“I got to know a lot of people from Kent that seemed enthusiastic,” he said. “It’s kind of a win-win situation. They were willing to let me teach classes and with my family situation, it’s the best setup at the moment.”

Contact communication and information reporter Brittany Thoma at [email protected].